Georgia Tech and North Carolina got into a gridiron track meet on Saturday and the Yellow Jackets held off the Tar Heels 68-50 in the highest scoring football game in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Robert Godhigh rushed for two
touchdowns and caught a third for Georgia Tech. Jamal Golden returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score, and backup quarterback Vad Lee rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns and threw for a third.
The teams combined for 1,085 yards, 118 points - and just five punts - in surpassing the previous ACC record of 110 points set in Virginia's 63-47 victory over Tulane in 1968.
"It didn't feel near the same as it did last time we came off that field," said UNC coach Larry Fedora. "It was pretty poor feeling, actually. We played poorly in all three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams. Give Georgia Tech credit for what they accomplished today because they were the better team today."
Georgia Tech outgained the Tar Heels 588-497 and set a school record for points in an ACC game, eclipsing its 63 against Wake Forest in 1998. Bryn Renner threw two touchdown passes for the Tar Heels (6-4, 3-3).
Giovani Bernard and A.J. Blue each scored two touchdowns for North Carolina, which hadn't allowed this many points since Louisville hung 69 on them in 2005. The Tar Heels pulled to 58-50 on Renner's 11-yard touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis and Tim Scott's 32-yard interception return on the first play of the fourth quarter. Orwin Smith followed that with a 22-yard touchdown run to put the Yellow Jackets up 65-50.
"I've played against it for three years, four years now," said linebacker Kevin Reddick. "I think last year we did okay with it, the other years it kind of gassed us. You just have to be disciplined and that's it. The coaches were telling us all week 'do your job, do your job,' and guys didn't come out and do that today."
Chris Tanner kicked a 34-yard field goal to complete the scoring with 3:40 left. Smith finished with 83 yards rushing and 39 yards receiving. Starting quarterback Tevin Washington tied former teammate Joshua Nesbitt's ACC record for quarterbacks with his 35th career rushing touchdown, a 25-yarder on his team's opening series.
Lee, a native of nearby Durham, N.C., took over on Georgia Tech's third offensive series, immediately led three straight scoring drives and played the rest of the way. He finished 6 of 10 for 169 yards passing. David Sims added an 11-yard touchdown run for the Yellow Jackets, one of four Coastal Division teams - along with North Carolina, Miami and Duke - with three league losses.
Romar Morris had a 30-yard touchdown run for the Tar Heels, and Renner finished 24 of 35 for 350 yards with an interception. The second half started with a bang: two touchdowns - one by each team - in a 34-second span.
Golden put the Yellow Jackets up 34-29 when he returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. Bernard then took a short pass from Renner and broke two tackles while turning it into his longest career reception, a 78-yard score that briefly gave the Tar Heels a 36-34 lead.
Godhigh followed that with a 4-yard TD that put Georgia Tech ahead to stay. Tanner kicked a 35-yard field goal to make it 44-36. Bernard, the ACC's leading rusher, became the first Tar Heel rusher since Natrone Means to crack 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
"I don't have the answer for you right now," Fedora said. "We'll have to go back and look at the film and see what was actually happening out there. We used two different fronts throughout the game, and I'm not sure either one of them had much success. We went with the 3-4 and a 4-3 and mixed it up throughout the game and whether they ran it or threw it, we didn't have much success or any consistency."
The Tar Heels travel to Charlottesville for a Thursday night game against Virginia. The Cavaliers have won two in a row. They defeated Miami 41-40 Saturday.
Photo Courtesy: Eric Highsmith, UNC Athletics